Thursday, December 30, 2010

Asian Roll Lettuce Wraps

This is one of my favorite dinners: Asian Roll Lettuce Wraps.
You start with a leaf of lettuce, then fill it with rice, ginger and garlic seasoned meatballs, radishes, and fresh strips of bell pepper, green onion, and carrot. You can then top it off or dip it in the yummy soy, ginger, lemon, garlic sauce.
So fresh and flavorful, and the kids love them.
As a bonus, all the fresh ginger is a natural tummy-soother in pregnancy (and smells delicious while you're grating it.)

Asian Roll Lettuce Wraps
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 16 large lettuce leaves
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sliced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup sliced radishes
  • 1/3 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together ground turkey, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 2 teaspoons ginger. Form into 16 meatballs and roll into ovals. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine rice with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until rice is tender.
  3. Preheat the grill or broiler. Arrange rice, lettuce leaves, carrots, scallions, radishes and red peppers onto a serving platter or place each into a small bowl. In a medium bowl, mix together 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup water, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons garlic, 1 tablespoon ginger, and sugar. Divide into 4 small dipping bowls.
  4. Thread two meatballs onto each 10 inch skewer. Grill or broil for 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally to brown all sides. If broiling, line the broiler pan with aluminum foil and drain fat after 6 minutes.
  5. To eat, place a leaf of lettuce onto the palm of your hand, spoon on a little rice, then a meat roll, and a few of the vegetables. Roll up and dip in dipping sauce or spoon sauce over.

Spring Cleaning in December

One of my favorite times to clean is post-Christmas. The new year and a fresh start really fuel my cleaning energies. I have been known in years past to take down the tree as soon as the day after Christmas. Well, this year it lasted until four days past. It is such a good feeling for me to vacuum pine needles off my floor for the last time, take down all the beautiful decorations that, after December 25th, just look like clutter, and get my house back in order. Our cleaning spree lasted from 9:00a.m until 5:00p.m., but the great thing is it is all done! We worked from the kitchen up, bottom to top. Ashlee spent about three hours with me cleaning out her room and organizing her mounds of crochet accessories. I can see the budding cleaner/organizer in her. With a new homeschool semester approaching, an orderly house is a good start for helping us to set some of those other academic goals and getting back on track post first-trimester of pregnancy. So today, it's to the library. I want to have plenty of supplemental science and history books to dive into at the start of next week. Here's to a new year and new achievements.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Few of our Favorite Things

Merry Christmas!!!
I thought I'd share a few of our favorite things.


Jacob: his mini dirt bike from Grandpa Ken and the Sony PSP from Santa.
Kaitlyn: her chest of princess dress-up clothes.
This darling little crocheted kitty hat for Rachel from Aunt Roxanne (I wanted to get a picture of it on her but she's sleeping.)
Here was another fun gift from Grandpa- a rod hockey table.
For Mom: some bath items compliments of Aunt Roxanne and my kids. The bath salts and body lotion are hand made and smell divine!
My little budding pianist. .
I finally sewed the hooks on last year's stockings and was able to hang them.
I did canning for the first time this year. I made whiskey bourbon BBQ sauce:
Strawberry jam (sans pectin):
And peppermint candy-cane bath salts. Fun!
Ashlee's big-ticket item this year was the Amazon Kindle electronic book reader. It was the perfect gift for an avid reader and homeschooler.
And this, my gift to you. I am going to share the recipe for the delicious clam chowder we had on Christmas Eve. You may want to do half a batch, because it makes about 2 gallons.

Award-Winning Santa Cruz Clam Chowder

4 oz. pancetta / bacon
1 lb. butter
1 lb. onion, chopped
1 lb. celery, chopped
1 lb. red bell pepper, chopped
1 lb. green bell pepper, chopped
1 c. flour
2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 qt. clam juice (you can reserve some of this from the clams)
1 Tbs. fresh tarragon
1 Tbs. fresh thyme
6 c. milk
6 c. cream
1- 51 oz. can of clams
8 oz. cream cheese
salt
white pepper
curry powder

*Cook potatoes in clam juice w/ tarragon and thyme until almost done.
*Saute pancetta / bacon, drain fat, crumble and set aside.
*In LARGE stock pot, melt half of butter. Saute onions, celery, and bell pepper until soft. When done, add remaining butter and, when melted, flour.
*Add clam juice from potatoes to pot of vegetables. When warm again, add cream cheese. Whisk until smooth.
*Add potatoes and clams and cook on low for 10-20 minutes.
*Season with salt, pepper, and curry.

Delicious!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Homemade Mac 'n Cheese

Raise your hand if this winter weather has you craving comfort food!

Well, there's nothing more homey and comforting than rich, creamy, homemade mac 'n cheese. This was our dinner the other night, partly out of want and partly out of necessity (the chicken I had in the fridge had gone bad and I didn't have enough time to thaw out any other meat.)

After searching several recipes online and finding none that really jumped out at me, I devised my own version. I will share the recipe to the best of my recollection, of course, the art of cooking requires adaptations to suit your own tastes (i.e. level of creaminess, amount of spices, etc.)

(This is not my picture, but looks the closest to mine since I baked it in my cranberry glazed stoneware.)

Lisa's Homemade Mac n' Cheese
1) Boil a large pot of water for the noodles. You can use any kind you like, white or whole wheat. I used traditional macaroni.

2) In a stainless steel or non-stick skillet, heat approx. 1 Tbs. oil and 3 Tbs. butter until melted.

3) Add approx. 2-3 Tbs. white flour and stir until blended. Cook and stir about 2 minutes until slightly golden (this is your roux.)

4) Season roux with salt, pepper, and a dash each of red cayenne pepper and ground nutmeg. This is where all the flavor comes in!

5) Slowly add about 2 c. evaporated or whole milk (I used a combination of both) and stir until thickened (this is the part where you'll need to be adaptable; use more or less milk to create a creamy base for your cheese sauce.)

6) Shred 1-2 c. cheddar cheese and stir into creamy base until melted and incorporated. Reserve about 1 c. of cheese sauce and set aside.

7) Add cooked and drained noodles to remaining cheese sauce and toss to coat.

8) Spread macaroni into greased casserole dish.

9) Top with bread crumbs and melted butter.

10) Bake at 350 for 20-30 mins. or until bread crumbs are golden. Serve with remaining cheese sauce.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Resolutions

Who needs to wait until New Year's to make resolutions?
Christmas is still a week out, and yet I find myself anxiously anticipating the turning over of a new leaf. There are so many things in my life that I feel need a-fixing, and I want to start now. My diet has changed as a result of pregnancy and first trimester food cravings and aversions, and since I have stopped running my energy levels have gone down. Consequently, my eating habits have changed, and the overall sluggish feeling I have has led to a lax in standards with my kids and around the house. I am ready to climb back up.
As anyone who knows me knows, this past year we have moved out of a house that I very much loved and into one that has been in many ways a struggle. I find myself wanting to go back to "the way things were," yet wrestle with the fact that I should be grateful where I'm at and with what I have.
In some ways, I view my "changed" life as a blessing. Believe it or not, there was a time I wished I could be exactly where I am now, a place where cleaning and maintaining the appearance of my home did not take such precedence in my life, or that I didn't "have" to leave my kids to go for a run. We have all heard that our strengths can become our weaknesses, and that was me. As much as I loved my last house, I knew that my preoccupation with it was becoming a weakness; getting in the way of enjoying other things and distracting my focus from what was most important (namely, my kids.) Similarly, I've had periods in my life where a preoccupation with diet and/or exercise has led me to seek the help of a priesthood blessing. My strengths had become my weaknesses.
That being said, we all know that there are many factors that contribute to our physical and spiritual well-being. Knowledge will not allow us to deliberately do things that are harmful and have a good conscience about it, and my life experience has given me too much knowledge to continue in some of my ways. I look back on the high points in my life, and can come up with a summary of what is important to me: a clean house, healthy body, exercise, and good family relationships through conscious living.
Now that the first trimester of my pregnancy is over, I feel it is time for me to get back on the bandwagon and live up to my potential. I like to set my goals in the positive rather than the negative, and share my goals with others to increase my accountability. This is a rough draft and will not be set in stone until after New Year's:

*I will eat whole foods with fruits and vegetables as the base of my diet, and heed the council given in the Word of Wisdom to partake of all things in moderation.

*I will do my best to reduce or eliminate sugary foods that make me feel bad.

*I will focus on eating foods for good energy, not merely out of a craving or for pleasure.

*I will eat local, organic, or homegrown as often as possible.

*I will do laundry every day, from start to finish (wash, fold, put away.)

*I will clean my bathrooms twice a week.

*I will adhere to my cleaning schedule.

*I will exercise 4-5 days a week, be it walking, running, yoga, indoor or outdoor, weather and pregnancy permitting.

*I will do at least one quality subject with my kids in homeschooing every day.

*I will record school work daily.

*I will listen to my kids with real intent and not be divided.

*I will slow down and give what I do more quality.

*I will speak kindly and in a nice tone.

*I will make a conscious effort to be patient.

*I will pray and seek for the guidance of the Spirit every day.

It's a start, and if nothing else, I have been inspired just getting these goals down and out. As of late I find myself feeling so full, dragging, tired, and defeated at the end of the day, and with nothing to show for it other than the fact that my kids are a day older. I haven't always felt this way, and I know that part of it is pregnancy, but a large part is due to the factors listed above. I strongly believe that our physical health affects our emotional and spiritual health, and that we are interconnected to our surroundings. I know that through a good physical and temporal cleaning and purging, my spirit will soar and I will once again find my path.

Magic Pressure Cooker

A couple of years ago I was given a pressure cooker set by someone who didn't use it enough to warrant holding onto it. Not being quite sure what to do with it, I stashed it in my cupboard for future use. Well, this has been the week that I have discovered its magic! I did canning for the first time this week and used the pressure cooker to process the jars. I made lemon rice for lunch yesterday and it was delicious! Did you know that a pressure cooker can cook rice in 6 minutes? Then last night I used it to make the best fried chicken I have ever had homemade. With a pressure cooker, the natural juices are sealed in so the chicken is crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. Again, this only took 6 minutes. I went online today and discovered that the one I have is valued at over $400. I think I've found a new favorite kitchen appliance! Does anyone have any good pressure cooker recipes they'd like to share?


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Good News


This is soooo exciting. I just discovered that my best friend from high school, Karen, is pregnant! We are the same age, have been with our husbands for the same amount of time (high school sweethearts) and I have been waiting for her to have a baby! Here's the best part... she's due 10 days after me! How awesome is that. Congratulations Clint and Karen!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You Know You're a Homeschooler When...

You know you're a homeschooler when your library fees total over $40.

(Ouch! That one hurt.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

What Would You Do?

Kaitlyn has been rather mischievous lately. For the past month or so she has been getting into nail polish, lip gloss, hand sanitizer, play dough, lotion, etc. on a daily basis and making messes. I've always prided myself on never having one of those kids, but now it appears I have one. So, yesterday after church we were all going about our business, I was cleaning, Forrest was resting, and the kids were playing independently. They went out in the backyard, and a short while later Kaitlyn appeared in the kitchen asking for a pair of gloves. I directed her to the garage, then upon glancing over noticed a silver chain dangling from her hand. Wait, what was that?

"Come here Kaitlyn."

(Kaitlyn continues to walk towards garage.)

"Kaitlyn, wait a minute (I progress toward her.) What do you have?"

I lift her hands to find my anniversary jewelry dangling, a tangled necklace and one earring... ONE!

Now mind you this is the only real jewelry I possess. It was a set given to me by Forrest for our 5 year wedding anniversary, an aquamarine and diamond studded necklace and earrings with deep sentimental meaning. There was a little story that Forrest told me when he gave me the set, making it all the more special. Anyhow, needless to say, I did not react to the situation calmly. I am sure every neighbor within ear shot heard the words that came spewing out of my mouth as we combed the empty lot next to our house.

I called the jewelry store today and discovered that one little earring is going to be $184 to replace. That was an expensive mistake, one that never should've happened. Forrest maintains that she is 6 years away from the age of accountability, and was able to remain much calmer than I. But seriously, of all the things she could've gotten into, I feel that she crossed the line. How would you have handled the situation?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pictures with Santa

We saw Santa at our ward Christmas party tonight. The boys readily sat on his lap, but afterward Jacob said, "Mom, he didn't even ask what I wanted. He just said 'Have you been a good boy this year' and 'Do you help your Mom?'" Thank you Santa.

Sorry Jacob, we'll leave a letter.
When it was the girls' turn, Kaitlyn took off and booked it in the opposite direction, so here we have two out of the three. Poor Rachel was a fuss-pot the entire night.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

14 Weeks

"That's just not a 13-week bump."

So they all said. The midwives, the apprentice, friends who were at the Relief Society party the night before it happened. I did seem to suddenly pop out about a week ago, going from not even looking pregnant to quite pregnant seemingly overnight. Now I know why! It was a twin belly. My 13 week uterus was measuring at 16 1/2 weeks. I expect growth to slow down now.
Friday morning I went for a light 2.75 mi. jog, after having taken about a month off from running. I came home, made some breakfast, and felt especially tired afterward. So, while the kids were doing school work, I sat down on the chair and took about a 20 minute nap. When I got up, I felt the familiar yet feared sensation of blood between my legs. "Hmmm, can't be," I reassured myself as I headed to the bathroom. What I saw was almost surreal at first, a sight every woman fears in pregnancy. Blood.

My first thought was what every woman's thought would be at a time like this: I am going to lose this baby, and this is the start of it. I left the bathroom, dropped to my knees, and prayed. I didn't want to panic- yet. Forrest was out of town and I was home alone with the kids, so I had to keep it together. However, after another trip to the bathroom and seeing more of the same, I was certain that this was it and nothing, not even Kaitlyn standing at my side, refrained the tears from coming- and hard. But here's the interesting part- right at this moment, a part of me knew that perhaps this was a twin. I clung to the idea that my baby would be okay.

I rested, and made the phone calls. First Forrest, then the midwives. Then came the call from an inspired friend whom I swear as my guardian angel as of late, and I spilled the beans to her. After several trips to the bathroom the bleeding seemed to have slowed, so I continued to rest. The midwives said I could come down later in the afternoon to check for a heartbeat. I had not had any prenatals as of yet, and I wanted to hear the heartbeat, whether it would be for the first or last time.

The afternoon passed, I called for a blessing, then it was time to go. I made a last-minute decision to put on a pad. I loaded up the kids, said another prayer, and headed down to Citrus Heights in the rain. My uterus was crampy the whole drive down, and I was gently rubbing it and trying to get it to release. This was the first time I had even taken notice of my uterus during the pregnancy, and now it just felt different. Heavy, bloated, crampy, and different. My head ached and I was nauseous (a good sign nonetheless, as at least I knew those pregnancy hormones were still going.) I walked in the door, entered the exam room, closed the door behind be, and felt a gush- followed by another one. Thank goodness for the pad. I laid down on the exam table and lifted my shirt. "That doesn't look like a 13 week uterus," was their observation. I just wanted to hear the heartbeat.

The kids set off playing with the toys, as usual, but they knew the reason why we were there. Marlene pulled out the doppler and placed it on my stomach. "This usually takes a few minutes..." but before she could finish a strong and steady rhythmic lub-dub echoed in the room and brought smiles to all of our faces. At this moment I looked down my feet at Kaitlyn and noticed she had stopped her playing and was focusing intently on the sound coming from the doppler. Okay, so that answers that. They pulled out the measuring tape and measured my stomach. 16 1/2 cm. Then they palpated. "This does not feel like a 13 week uterus."

They discussed the possible reasons for bleeding during pregnancy and sent me home with some lobilia tincture to ease the cramping while I waited out the weekend. I immediately scheduled an ultrasound for Monday.

The weekend passed without much tumult, other than the fact that I was incredibly tired and wanting desperately to keep this baby inside. I can not even describe the desperateness of that feeling after having come so close to losing it. My angel friend was kind enough to bring over a hospital grade doppler for me to borrow, and the sweetest moment came on Friday night as the kids gathered around the couch and we found the baby's heartbeat. I could've gone to sleep to it that night. I slept soundly, awoke Saturday and checked again. Still there, and I was even picking up movement. So how could one bleed that heavily during pregnancy and still have a baby inside? I was hoping Monday's ultrasound would give us more answers.

I arrived at the lab Monday afternoon, kids in tow, where I was met by my midwife's assistant and the apprentice. The ultrasound was quick and to the point, as they had squeezed me in on a moment's notice. I laid down on the table and lifted my shirt. "That's a cute bump, but it sure doesn't look like 13 weeks." Our first sight was baby #1 with a beating heart. Phew. The ultrasound tech took measurements of the head, which revealed a 14 week fetus. We watched for a while as I enjoyed fingers and toes flitting across the screen. He probed around a little more, and quickly spotted the culprit. Another sac filled with fluid and tissue. The assistant and the tech began conversing in a somewhat coded language as I lay and watched, picking up bits and pieces like "two to three inches" and "cells." I was really too focused on my baby to take note of much else. He printed a few pictures for us, a copy of the DVD, and we were on our way with the instructions to come back at 24 weeks.

I really left feeling relieved instead of at a loss. From what I understand the second fetus was never viable to begin with and, in my translation, not meant to be. It was the "twin that wasn't." I had my heart set on one healthy baby, and one healthy baby I have. The fetus/mass/cell-cluster is still in there, and apparently will be re-absorbed over time. This is a little concerning to me, but from what I understand in these scenarios baby #1 remains perfectly healthy and what will manifest of baby #2 is evidence of where the sac was attached to the placenta at birth along with any remains of the fetus. In other words, we can expect to face this again at the birth. Until then, I am relieved and grateful, a little unsettled, and will proceed with caution. I guess it wouldn't be a last pregnancy if it didn't go out with a bang! I always felt deep down that I would end with two little boys, but maybe God knew 6 would be a better number for me. I feel complete, I am hopeful, and rest assured knowing that all is exactly how it should be. Hurray for a healthy (sshhh... boy!) and the second trimester!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Armed and Ready

You simply can not have too many pacifiers to get you through the night.

(I'll take 12 hours sleep any way it comes.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In Luck

Guess what I came across at CVS tonight.....................?










Ha-haaaaaaaaaaaaaa! And I thought I was going to have to wait until Easter!

(seriously, someone tell me I should not be stashing chocolate in my pantry.)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Vanishing Twin Syndrome

Well, after a somewhat scary occurrence over the weekend it would appear that we just had the experience of a vanishing twin. This is not to cause undue alarm, as today's ultrasound revealed a very healthy, viable 14-week-old baby. However, alongside the healthy baby was an empty sac filled with fluid and small amounts of tissue. I trust that this was not a viable baby to begin with and have faith that everything happened just the way it was supposed to. We are grateful for a healthy baby, and I am especially thankful for everyone's thoughts and prayers. I know my prayers were answered.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Parable of the Doughnuts

This was shared by our wonderful and loving bishop tonight at the Relief Society Christmas celebration. Only read it when you have the time to truly grasp the meaning- it's powerful.

The Parable of the Donuts

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the Western United States.

Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course his or her freshman year regardless of his or her major.

Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor's class.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. "How many pushups can you do?"

Steve said, "I do about 200 every night."

"200? That's pretty good, Steve," Dr. Christianson said. "Do you think you could do 300?"

Steve replied, "I don't know . . . I've never done 300 at a time."

"Do you think you could?" again asked Dr. Christianson.

"Well, I can try," said Steve.

"Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind, and I need you to do about 300 pushups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it," said the professor.

Steve said, "Well . . . I think I can . . . yeah, I can do it."

Dr. Christianson said, "Good! I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind."

Friday came, and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. Now these weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls.
DonutsEveryone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson's class.

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?"

Cynthia said, "Yes."

Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten pushups so that Cynthia can have a donut?"

"Sure." Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.

Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, "Joe, do you want a donut?"

Joe said, "Yes."

Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve would you do ten pushups so Joe can have a donut?" Steve did ten pushups, and Joe got a donut.

And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten pushups for every person before they got their donut, and down the second aisle, till Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship. When the professor asked, "Scott do you want a donut?"

Scott's reply was, "Well, can I do my own pushups?"

Dr. Christianson said, "No, Steve has to do them."

Then Scott said, "Well, I don't want one then."

Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten pushups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?" With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten pushups.
Man  doing pushups


Scott said, "HEY! I said I didn't want one!"

Dr. Christianson said, "Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it." And he put a donut on Scott's desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow. Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.

Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?"

Sternly, Jenny said, "No." Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten more pushups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?" Steve did ten, and Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say "No" and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these pushups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.

Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each pushup to make sure he did the full ten pushups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could count the set and watch Steve closely.

Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row. During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room.

He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set. Steve asked Dr. Christianson, "Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?"

Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, "Well, they're your pushups . . . You are in charge now. You can do them any way that you want." And Dr. Christianson went on.

A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, "NO! Don't come in! Stay out!" Jason didn't know what was going on.

Steve picked up his head and said, "No, let him come."

Professor Christianson said, "You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for him?"

Steve said, "Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut"

Dr. Christianson said, "Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now.

Jason, do you want a donut?" Jason, new to the room hardly knew what was going on.

"Yes," he said, "give me a donut."

"Steve, will you do ten pushups so that Jason can have a donut?" Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row, then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve's arms were now shaking with each pushup in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. Sweat was profusely dropping off of his face and, by this time, there was no sound except his heavy breathing, there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular. Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, "Linda, do you want a doughnut?"

Linda said, very sadly, "No, thank you."

Professor Christianson quietly asked, "Steve, would you do ten pushups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?" Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow pushups for Linda.

Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. "Susan, do you want a donut?" Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. "Dr. Christianson, why can't I help him?"

Dr. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, "No, Steve has to do it alone, I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not.

When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve, here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work.

Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do pushups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your pushups. He and I made a deal for your sakes.

Steve, would you do ten pushups so Susan can have a donut?" As Steve very slowly finished his last pushup, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said. "And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, 'into thy hands I commend my spirit.' With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, he yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten."

Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile. "Well done, good and faithful servant" said the professor, adding "Not all sermons are preached in words."

Turning to his class the professor said, "My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who spared not the only Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all for the whole Church, now and forever.
Jesus getting scourged
Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid. Wouldn't you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it laying on the desk?"

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's CHRISTmas, Not Just a Holiday

I copied and pasted this entire thing from this blog. I felt it was good enough to pass on, and hope you will take the time to do what she is suggesting.


Wish the ACLU a Very Merry Christmas


What a clever idea!

Yes, Christmas cards. This is coming early so that you can get ready to include an important
address to your list.

Want to have some fun this CHRISTMAS? Send the ACLU a CHRISTMAS CARD this year.As they are working so very hard to get rid of the CHRISTMAS part of this holiday, we should all send them a nice, card to brighten up their dark, sad, little world. Make sure it says "Merry Christmas" on it.

Here's the address, just don't be rude or crude:

ACLU
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Two tons of Christmas cards would freeze their operations because they wouldn't know if any were regular mail containing contributions.So spend 44 cents and tell the ACLU to leave Christmas alone. Also tell them that there is no such thing as a

"Holiday Tree."
It's always been called a
CHRISTMAS TREE!
For those of you who aren't aware of them, the ACLU, (the American Civil Liberties Union) is the one suing the US Government to take God, Christmas or anything religious away from us. They represent the atheists and others in this war. Help put Christ back in Christmas!

Now mind you - I think that the ACLU can do wonderful
things for people and their causes...
WHEN it's appropriate.
I would never campaign to take the rights
away from those who believe differently than me.
I believe that all holidays should be given respect.
I would never want Hanukkah Menorahs banned.
I would never want to force atheists to
attend worship services.
But I don't believe that my rights should be
taken away!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Night I Hope to Never Repeat


Well, yesterday started off like a good enough day. I woke up with a determination to get my house in order, so I spent the better part of five hours sweeping, mopping, doing dishes, vacuuming, and sorting laundry. I even rented a Rug Dr. and steam-cleaned the couches- my above and beyond chore for the day.

Afternoon came. I was feeling pretty good, the house was looking pretty good, so I decided to go in the kitchen and fulfill my family's request for baked goods. I made another batch of my cinnamon raisin bread as per Forrest's request, and homemade granola bars for Ashlee. I then got a start on my pan of lasagna to put in the oven for dinner.

No sooner was the lasagna ready to come out of the oven than I felt a wave of nausea coming on. "It'll pass," I thought, "just get some dinner in your stomach." Mind you all I had had to eat in the day was two peanut butter banana smoothies, one with protein powder, and a couple of samples here and there of cheese slices and granola bar dough as I worked in the kitchen.

Well, I never made it as far as dinner. Within minutes of that first feeling of nausea I was up in the bathroom feeling violently sick. I kept thinking that relief would come, but it never did. In the heat of the moment I started processing what could have been the cause of this sudden onset of sickness. Was it the flu? Was it that I hadn't eaten enough? Or worse yet, was it something bad that I had eaten? Certainly this couldn't be just pregnancy hormones. I even had Forrest Google "botulism" from the raw honey that was in the granola that I ate. There had to be an answer to why I was being wracked with such torment. After the third round I climbed into bed, so exhausted I could only keep my eyes open half way, and fell asleep. I stayed nauseous for the first half of the night, but slept soundly for the most part. It wasn't until this afternoon that the feeling fully passed.

What I did gain from this experience is a sympathy for women who go through this all the time. I really don't think I would have many kids if this is the way I felt in pregnancy. I am still trying to figure out the rhyme and reason behind morning sickness, including why I've been spared from it this time around. If that is all I suffer, than I consider my duty paid. In the mean time, God-speed the next 2-3 weeks...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Looking Ahead


Just thought I'd share some yummy recipes I found for the week's menu:
(click on the links.)

Tuesday: Seafood Fettuccini

Wednesday: World's Best Lasagna

Thursday: Good 'Ol Hamburgers and French Fries (no recipe required- this one's for the hubby)


Friday: Date Night (Yo-Yo dinner: You're On Your Own)

Saturday: Ali's Lamb and Winter Vegetable Stew
-can't wait to try this one!
(private blog, so I'll include the recipe):
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound lamb stew meat, cubed (request from grocery store butcher)
2 cups beef broth
1 cup dry red wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 cups peeled, seeded, and sliced butternut squash
1 cup peeled, sliced parsnips
1 cup peeled, chopped sweet potatoes
1 cup sliced celery
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions
1.Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and brown the lamb meat on all sides. Drain fat, and stir in the beef broth and wine. Season with garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.

2.Mix in the squash, parsnips, sweet potatoes, celery, and onion. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

3.In a small bowl, blend the sour cream and flour. Gradually stir in 1/2 cup of the hot stew mixture.

4.Stir the sour cream mixture into the saucepan. Remove the bay leaf, and continue to cook and stir until thickened.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Best Blueberry Muffins

Forgive me for being all about food, but we had the best blueberry muffins this morning and I wanted to share. I think the secret was in using buttermilk pancake mix in lieu of white flour (I was all out.) Whatever the case, these were moist, healthy, and delicious, and gone before church.

Best Blueberry Muffins

1 c. Trader Joe's Buttermilk Pancake Mix
1 c. fresh ground whole wheat flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
3/4 c. whole milk
1/3 c. canola oil
1 egg
1 c. blueberries
(fresh or frozen- I used frozen and let them thaw in a collander overnight.)

Mix dry ingredients.

Combine wet ingredients and gently stir into dry.

Fold in blueberries.

Line a muffin pan (stoneware is the best) with paper cups and spray bottoms only with cooking oil. Fill 12-14 cups.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes exactly.

(These aren't mine; ours were gone before I could take a picture!)



Daylight Savings Ends

Hope y'all remembered to set your clocks back last night. Now it's going to be even easier to get the kids in bed by 7:30. I'll just be curious to see how many people show up to church an hour early today...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Bread in the Bread Machine

I woke up with a craving for something freshly baked. I didn't have enough blueberries to make muffins (and after having Katie's Alaskan blueberry muffins knew I'd be disappointed with anything less) and didn't want anything too sugary. Being that raisins and cinnamon are staples in my house, I decided on cinnamon raisin bread. I found a recipe online and adapted it a bit.
This bread was soft and moist with just the right amount of sweetness, and far exceeded my expectations. The first loaf was devoured within minutes.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
(I made the dough in the bread machine, rolled it out by hand, and baked in the oven.)

1 1/2 c. plus 2 Tbs. milk, heated
4 Tbs. butter, softened
1 tsp. salt
3 c. white flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
3 Tbs. white sugar
2 tsp. yeast


(1 c. raisins to be added later on.)
(additional butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar for filling.)

*add above ingredients to bread machine, proofing yeast if you'd like.

*add 1 c. raisins about half way through kneading cycle.

*when done, remove dough from bread pan and roll out into large rectangle on a floured surface.

In a separate bowl, combine 2 Tbs. brown sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon.

*melt 2 Tbs. butter and brush over rectangle.

*sprinkle cinnamon sugar over all.

*roll up lengthwise and cut into two loaves. Place in greased baking pan and let rise 30-60 minutes.

*bake in 350 oven for 35-40 minutes.

*slice and serve.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

T.V., Laundry, and the Importance of 5:30 Dinner

(a.k.a. another real-life random post.)

I am so excited. Tomorrow morning between 8-10 we have a date with the Comcast guy! That's right, after nearly five years of going without, we are getting T.V. put back in our house. I had an embarrassing moment the other night when I was in Bel-Air picking up some Halloween candy for the Trunk-or-Treat. One of the guys from Chase bank struck up a conversation with me. We talked briefly, and as I started to walk away, he said to me inquisitively, "Go Giants?"

"Huh? Um, no, we don't really follow sports."

"Well are you a Giants fan?"

"I don't know, I could be...?"

He smiled and let me walk away.

I continue to the check out, noticing all the cashiers decked out in their Giants gear. Clueless.

It wasn't until I got back into the car that Forrest informed me we were in the midst of the World Series. The WORLD SERIES! And I hadn't a clue. Hooooowww embarrassing. Seriously, I'm that detached. What do you want from a homeschooling SAHM whose social interactions are limited to Sunday church and the Mom's club?

Want to know what I am most excited about? A Baby Story and Food Network. Those are my faaaaavorite. Every time I go into my bank it's Rachel Ray or that cute Italian lady on the screen and I practically step out of line to watch. I can remember the days when I would stay home sick from school as a kid and spend all day watching cooking shows (back then it was Yan Can Cook!) Anyhow, I love them. I want Martha Stewart to teach me how to make a Thanksgiving turkey and homemade place cards this year.

I'll have you all know that I am completely caught up on my laundry, and intend to stay that way. I've decided it's so much better to feel sick in a clean house than in a dirty one, so today I slaved. The kids slaved. And to top it all off, we ended the night with a Family Home Evening lesson on division of chores and Mom's expectations, and how our house is like the temple and we should keep it clean.

Me: "Did you know that a mom on my blog said that if her kids can operate a DVD player, or put on a video game, they can run the washer and dryer?"

Forrest: "Yeah, and if you can play Monopoly you're ready to go out and get a job. If you can ride a bike you might as well go get groceries." (can always be counted on for a good dose of sarcasm during FHE.)

But in all honestly, I agree with this concept. After a break down of what needs to be done daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly so that "a guest could come in at any time and use our bathroom and we would not be embarrassed," the kids are eager to help... more than they already do. Tonight, my house is clean, and I am optimistic. (Sometimes I wish my mood weren't so directly related to the state of my house, but it is so I'm going to run with it.)

Another testimony I gained tonight: the importance of adhering to a schedule. To have dinner served, cleaned up, cookies made, and the dishwasher going by 6:30 p.m. is a beautiful thing. And when the kids are bathed and in bed and the clock reads 7:35, life is a little sweeter. Now I can blog, write in my journal, fold a load of laundry, spend some R&R with my husband and still be in bed at a decent hour. This week I will try to remember this- it all starts with 5:30 dinner.

Anyhow, that's all I have for tonight on the list of things-that-mean-much- more-to-me-than-they-ever-will-to-you. I only hope that someone, somewhere, can relate on some level. In the grand scheme of things, we're all in this together. Tomorrow, it's me and Martha... or Giada... or Paula...? Eeeeeeee! (That's a squeal of excitement.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Our Good News for the Day

Rachel had a follow up echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) at Kaiser this morning, and the results revealed that she is in deed showing signs of improvement since her last visit. The pressure in the right side of her heart is still decreasing, and she has been put in the "mild case" category as opposed to the "moderate case" like she was before, meaning she is definitely clear of being a surgery candidate at this point. Yahoo!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

This and That

Since I always enjoy reading about real-life things on other blogs, I try to do the same for my readers. Here's a little catch-up of what's going on in my life; nothing blogworthy in and of itself, but noteworthy nonetheless.

* I am still running. My latest was 5 miles (well, 4.76, right Kristen?) on Saturday, in the rain. Not much to say about it, except it was 5 miles, in the rain, and it felt great. When you start your day with 5 miles, you can do anything (or so it seems.) I did finally take my training schedule off the refrigerator. I missed a couple of runs last week which was enough to make me feel like I was "off the program." Also, the training schedule started calling for 8, 10 and 12 mile runs on Saturday, and I capped mine off at 6. The half-marathon will have to wait until next year (November, maybe...?)

*Thanks to my running, I have started this pregnancy off with weight loss. Six pounds to be exact. With my body nurturing two babies at once, I committed myself to optimum nutrition. Also, a few months ago I made some changes in our diet to cut out refined sugars, which really helped me to get control of my eating habits. Now they are just that- habits. No dieting, no depriving, it's just a lifestyle change.

*Speaking of pregnancy, it seems I am being spared on the morning sickness. I'll be 9 weeks on Wednesday- the peak of the first trimester in all its glory- and I've had a total of two sick days (which passed by the evening.) I am very grateful needles to say , and feeling pretty optimistic with only a few weeks to go (but not letting my breath out yet.) As a kind friend said, "You'll get your trial after the baby's born." Yes, I thank you for pointing that out. : )

*Yesterday was a day of great change in our house in regards to sleeping arrangements: we took down the kids' beds and moved Rachel's crib into the girls' room. At first I was a little worried about her waking up Kaitlyn or vice versa, but she slept 8 1/2 hours! This was literally an answer to a prayer- or rather a plea. Sleep has been in short supply and I was desperate. For now, the older kids are on mattresses on the floor until we can find some new bunk beds. I figure if we are going to stay in this house I'm going to make it as livable (and likable) as possible. In the mean time, I am going to enjoy an empty bedroom for at least a few months.

*To all those who were in attendance at my Clutter Clearing class, I feel I owe you a confession. My upstairs is littered with laundry, and it is driving me crazy. This is not me. I love a clean house, I really do, but I can honestly say that in the year that we have lived here, I've struggled. Every day I wake up I have a choice to make: take care of my kids and their immediate needs, focus my efforts on homeschooling them, or catch up on the laundry. The latter has gone by the wayside. Like I once heard it said: "I can do one of two things really well: teach the kids or clean the house." Seriously, it's a constant battle in my life. The days that I do get my house clean to my standards, I feel like I don't spend an ounce of time with the kids. I do want a clean house, and I want happy kids. Why does it have to be a choice? Not to mention the fact that this mama needs rest, and sometimes I just have to ignore it all and lie down on the couch to heed my body's call for sleep. And I hate lugging loads of laundry down the stairs into the stinky garage where we keep the litter box. I can't fathom it when I'm feeling even the slightest bit nauseous. It was so much easier to keep up with laundry when we had the washer and dryer in the house. But honestly, it really, really bothers me. Any advice?

* I dream... no, I anticipate... no, I fantasize about an empty house... all the time. That's my other confession. Everything I see/hear/read about, I equate to, "Oh I can do that when my kids are gone." I know I have years to go, but seriously, I am excited. I told Forrest that this is a good thing. It's my way of preparing for this last baby. Every trial I will go through in the next year or so will be taken in light of, "But this will be the last time I will ever go through (fill-in-the-blank.)" There was a time when I feared I would mourn the loss of my childbearing years, but nope, no mourning going on over here. Only the happy dance folks.


*... one last thing. My mom still doesn't know I'm pregnant.

A Smidgen of Our Halloween

1) Dinner-in-a-pumpkin. check.
2) Carve jack-o-lanterns and toast seeds. check.
3) Trunk-or-Treat at church. check.
4)... and yes, we will be taking our kids out tonight. (Hey, we don't watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, or the World Series for that matter... what?)

Every year the church has a Trunk-or-Treat in the stake center parking lot where families come and pass candy out of their spookily decorated trunks. This usually falls on the same night as Halloween, in which case we spend only a short time there before venturing on to other neighborhoods for trick-or-treating. However, since the Trunk-or-Treat was on a Friday night this year, we decided to stay and pass out candy. It was So. Much. Fun. Forrest and I decided we will be doing this every year from now on until we are grandparents. : )

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes

As I was looking through my Mothering magazine this morning, I came across this recipe for Salmon Sweet Potato Cakes. They looked so delicious and tempting, and I couldn't stop craving them. Being as sick as I was feeling at the time, I couldn't muster the energy to get to the store and buy the ingredients, but I fantasized. Well, as the day progressed and I gradually began to feel better, I was able to whip some up. They were everything I had dreamed of and more (don't act like I'm the only one who fantasizes about food during pregnancy.)
I love the combination of healthy ingredients, and the sweet potato really gives them a moist texture and helps them to stick together. I halved the recipe and it still made a ton (about 16 small ones.)

Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes
(compliments of Mothering Magazine)

2 large sweet potatoes with skins, cubed
2 6-oz. cans wild Alaskan salmon
1/2 c. cornmeal
dash salt
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/3 c. fresh parsley, chopped
dash dried or fresh rosemary
1 scallion, chopped
3 Tbs. ground flaxseed
3 eggs
clarified butter or olive oil for frying
lemon wedges for serving

Boil sweet potatoes 15 minutes or until tender; drain and mash.
Add drained salmon and remaining ingredients, minus butter and lemon.
Mix well and shape into 2" patties.
Fry in hot oil or butter until golden brown on both sides.
Serve over a bed of greens with a lemon wedge.

I had these alongside a mug of hot lemon water with honey and it was just what the doctor ordered; soothed my stomach instantly.
I will definitely be making them again.